Peternells Support Budding Environmental Scientists

The 2008 creation of the Pamela (Lorman) and Ben Peternell Scholarship endowment generated momentum in the realm of environmental and sustainability studies at DePauw. That same year, the university joined the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment and created DePauw’s Office of Sustainability. In 2010, DePauw students won Campus Conservation Nationals for their effort to improve campus recycling and waste reduction. The following year, the university created the Environmental Fellows Program, a four-year honors program for students interested in addressing complex, interdisciplinary environmental challenges facing humanity. More donors have made environmentally focused gifts in recent years for the campus farm, LEED Gold certified buildings, a self-sustaining fund for energy efficiency projects and the planned solar array project at the Indoor Tennis and Track Center. In addition, the university created the Sustainability Leadership Program involving more than 50 students in its first year and now a core program for students interested in a wide variety of environmental science and sustainability issues.

To date, 29 Peternell scholars have engaged in post- DePauw activities ranging from scientific doctoral programs to jobs as geologists, U.S. Senate aides, environmental journalists and more. Hannah Ramage ’11, a biology major, was one of the first to receive the award. She has since completed a master’s degree at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and works as a program coordinator monitoring environmental variables in the St. Louis River estuary for the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve. “I love it!” Hannah said about her career. “I get to do such a variety of work. I drive boats, wade in wetlands, manage our lab, work with students, help with education/outreach and more.”

Pam and Ben Peternell returned to campus in 2018 to meet with scholars, student Environmental Fellows and faculty and staff members and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Peternell Environmental Scholarship. “We were so pleased to have had the opportunity to visit campus to meet with the faculty and staff associated with the various environmental studies and initiatives,” they said. “We were also pleased to announce the second phase of our financial support.”

While on campus, Pam and Ben announced a new commitment to endow the Pamela (Lorman) & Ben Peternell Endowed Environmental Opportunity Fund to sponsor experiential learning for environmental studies students.

Pam Peternell graduated from DePauw University in 1968. She was a member of Alpha Phi and majored in psychology. Pam earned a master’s degree in special education from Indiana University. Pam has been a special education teacher and community volunteer, as well as a certified master gardener. Ben Peternell earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hanover College and an MBA from Indiana University. He retired as senior vice president of human resources and communication for Caesars Entertainment. He serves on the board of directors for the Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon, Colo. The Peternells have two sons whose careers are focused on environmental conservation and sustainability.

A member of DePauw’s Board of Visitors from 2003- 2006, Pam also served the university as a member of the Class of 1968’s 50th reunion committee. In addition to their support for environmental initiatives, Pam and Ben have been loyal supporters of The Fund for DePauw.

To learn more about sustainability and environmental initiatives, including the solar array project, contact the Development and Alumni Engagement Office at 800- 446-5298.

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